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#453051 - 12/08/12 03:04 AM What the heck? McAfee news
seashell Offline
Admin, if you don't like the thread, then don't read it. Sorry there was a minor hijack, you could have just asked that those posts be removed. Marty said it was for posting news and I'd been posting news threads as well.

It's hard to stop a moving train.
_________________________
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?


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#453052 - 12/08/12 03:13 AM Re: What the heck? McAfee news [Re: seashell]
seashell Offline
_________________________
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?


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#453054 - 12/08/12 03:26 AM Re: What the heck? McAfee news [Re: seashell]
clover Offline

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#453055 - 12/08/12 03:30 AM Re: What the heck? McAfee news [Re: seashell]
seashell Offline
Latest: McAfee to give International press conference in front of Immigration building. Mayhap this has already taken place.

_________________________
A fish and a bird can fall in love, but where will they build their nest?


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#453056 - 12/08/12 03:32 AM Re: What the heck? McAfee news [Re: seashell]
Ernie B Offline
Just more crap
_________________________
Gun Control is Hitting Your Target.

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#453057 - 12/08/12 03:35 AM Re: What the heck? McAfee news [Re: Ernie B]
seashell Offline
Then it's in the right sub-forum, isn't it?

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#453068 - 12/08/12 01:28 PM Re: What the heck? McAfee news [Re: seashell]
Marty Offline
Girls, guns and yoga: John McAfee's odd life in "pirate haven"

To the many people who crossed his path on a tropical island in Belize, it was apparent John McAfee's life had taken some bizarre turns in the past few years.

The anti-virus software guru, who started McAfee Associates in 1989, has been in hiding since police said they wanted to question him about the weekend murder of his neighbor, fellow American Gregory Faull, with whom McAfee had quarreled.

Despite his disappearance, McAfee, 67, has remained in contact with the media, providing a stream of colorful bulletins over his predicament, state of mind and his claim that Belize's authorities want to kill him.

Residents of the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye and others who know him paint the picture of an eccentric, impulsive man who gave up a career as a successful entrepreneur in the United States for a life of semi-seclusion in the former pirate haven of Belize, surrounded by bodyguards and young women.

"Never mind the dog, beware of owner," counsels a small sign, embellished with a sketched hand gripping a large pistol, tacked to the fence separating McAfee's beachfront swimming pool from the pier that cuts into the azure sea.

McAfee, a yoga fan who has lived on the island for about four years, often moves around with bodyguards, wearing pistols in his belt. Since going into hiding, he has compared his lot to that of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is battling extradition from Britain from inside the Ecuadorean Embassy.

Officials suspect McAfee used designer drugs, and neighbors say he tried to chase them off the public beach in front of his house. Inside his home, a blue-roofed cottage complex, he kept a small arsenal of shotguns and scope-fitted rifles.

There were also complaints about the millionaire's numerous and noisy dogs. Officials say the poisoning of four of the dogs may be linked to the murder of Faull, a 52-year-old Florida building contractor who was shot dead at his salmon-hued two-story villa about 100 yards (meters) down the beach from McAfee.

Faull was one of the locals who had complained about McAfee's attitude and his dogs.

McAfee told Wired magazine, with whom he first kept up a running conversation, that he was disguised and holed up in what he describes as a lice-infested refuge. In comments to the magazine, McAfee denied he shot Faull and said he fears that the police will kill or torture him. Police, who believe he is still in Belize, say they just want to talk to him about the killing.

McAfee, who has not responded to requests for comment by Reuters, blamed Belize's "pirate culture" for his troubles in an essay Wired said he had sent to the magazine.

"Belize is still a pirate haven and is run more or less along the lines established centuries ago by the likes of Captain Morgan, Blackbeard and Captain Barrow," McAfee said.

Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow has urged McAfee to help police with their inquiries, calling him "bonkers."

In an interview with CNBC television by phone on Friday, McAfee said he would not seek refuge in the U.S. Embassy.

"What would happen? They will offer me either sanctuary where I will spend my days living in the embassy like poor Julian Assange or when I leave ... I will be nabbed by the police. My ultimate goal is they'll figure out who killed the man, it will have nothing to do with me and they will leave me alone. Or if enough international pressure is applied," he said.

'PARANOID'

Many locals in San Pedro describe the tattooed McAfee, who made a fortune developing the Internet anti-virus software that bears his name, as a generous but unstable man.

"He's a good guy, he helped a lot of people. The problem was when he wanted something he wanted it right now. And when he didn't get it, he'd get paranoid," said one islander, a former McAfee employee, who like many people here spoke on condition their name not be used for fear of retribution.

"He's a complex man, very impulsive," the islander added.

Doug Singh, Belize's former police minister, told Reuters he was at a loss to explain McAfee's recent comments.

"Mr. McAfee seems to have a bit of a divorce from reality and it seems to be consistent in his behavior and some of the things he has said recently. He's way out of line and out of proportion. Nobody has anything against Mr. McAfee," Singh said.

After making millions with his anti-virus product, McAfee decided to abandon the United States for Belize, a languid coastal paradise. It is a path that has been taken by a number of rich Americans over the years.

He took a beachfront compound on the island's isolated and exclusive north side, 6 miles from the town of San Pedro by boat or by driving over badly cratered asphalt and dirt track. It is a world away from California's Silicon Valley, which he once called home.

He took the company public in 1992 and left two years later following accusations that he had hyped the arrival of a virus known as Michelangelo, which turned out to be a dud, to scare computer users into buying his company's products.

Officials at the company he created and its parent, Intel, have declined to comment on the controversy.

But one long-time McAfee manager who recently left said company executives were likely monitoring the news closely. He said they have tracked reports of John McAfee's activities over the years out of concern they might need to do damage control.

A case is already pending in Belize against McAfee for possession of illegal firearms, and police previously suspected him of running a lab to make illicit synthetic drugs.

But McAfee said this week he was opposed to drugs.

"My life is [#%!] up enough without drugs, and always has been," McAfee told Wired magazine.

BENEFACTOR

For all his trouble with authorities, McAfee has worked hard to be the island's benefactor. Upon arriving in Belize he bought a $1 million boat for the country's new coast guard, and donated equipment to the local police force, according to local reports.

He tipped generously everywhere he went, and hired a steady stream of taxis for frequent female guests on the $150 round trip from the small airstrip in San Pedro out to his house.

"Not two or three, a lot of women," said Artemio Awayo, 24, a local waiter. "Every time I saw him it was a different woman."

Those who knew him said he didn't drink and never hung out at the island's many bars. But employees at a restaurant near the pier where McAfee's water taxi company is based said his actions grew more bizarre following a police raid last April on his mainland hacienda outside the town of Orange Walk.

Even for casual lunches, McAfee began regularly coming to town with at least two bodyguards, clad in camouflage and each packing pistols, they said.

"Generally, you don't need a bodyguard in Belize," said Jorge Alana, a San Pedro Sun reporter who interviewed McAfee several times, noting top elected officials don't have them. "It does call attention when you move with so many guards."

McAfee's home is in a stretch of Ambergris where the wealthiest foreigners hole up. Raw lots of land 100 feet by 200 feet can cost up to $500,000 here. Even modest-looking houses reflect multimillion-dollar investments.

On Thursday afternoon, a 23-year-old calling herself Tiffany used a key to enter McAfee's home with another young woman and said he had spent Saturday night with them - around the time police said Faull's murder took place.

They had not spoken to McAfee since Sunday, she said.

On Friday, an outside light was still on at his beachfront complex, and a dog roamed freely around the grounds.

Like McAfee, many of his north shore neighbors tend to favor being left alone, rarely coming to town and loath to mix with tourists.

"That's why they come to San Pedro," said Daniel Guerrero, the tour guide and real estate broker now serving as the town's mayor. "They like the quietness. They like the isolation."

But even fishing, scuba diving and sunset daiquiris can get tiresome. Accustomed to hard work and achievement, newcomers established and kept up the island's charities, locals say. Quite a few foreigners, like McAfee, started local businesses. And some fall out of synch with local culture.

"It's one thing to vacation here and another thing living here," said Wyoming native Tamara Sniffin, owner and editor of the San Pedro Sun, the local newspaper.

Immortalized in song by Madonna as La Isla Bonita, Ambergris Caye stretches 27 miles along the blue Caribbean below the Mexican border, flanking the world's second-largest barrier reef and some of its finest sport fishing waters.

Those attributes have attracted well-heeled foreign retirees and celebrities such as actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who owns a small island nearby.

"Here it's just party, party, work, party," said Iris Mavel, 27, a waitress at a restaurant favored by McAfee. "A lot of couples who come here leave divorced. That's why they call it Temptation Island."

The island also has a darker side. Dumped at sea and carried ashore by the tides, bundles of Colombian cocaine flow through the island not far from McAfee's house and on, many say, toward the Mexican border. Cocaine not recovered by the smugglers is collected by islanders, supplying a thriving local drug market that has sparked low-level gang feuds and occasional killings.

International fugitives have taken refuge here. In the summer, a Slovak man accused of murdering a woman, her 10-year-old son and a gangster in his home country was arrested on an international warrant, processed for extradition but then released by a Belizean judge.

Some townsfolk suspect McAfee is hiding on a yacht off of San Pedro. Others note that Mexico is only an hour away by the sort of fast boat McAfee owns and that passports are never checked for people landing in the oceanfront villages there.

San Pedro's mayor believes he will surface.

"I have the feeling that this guy will turn up," Guerrero said. "But he'll turn up with his attorneys. He's a big guy."

Reuters

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#453070 - 12/08/12 01:33 PM Re: What the heck? McAfee news [Re: seashell]
Marty Offline

Four hours with John McAfee

Exclusive interview with multi-millionaire creator of antivirus software, who went on the run from his Belize home last month

The meeting

Belize City bus station is a small building set on a dusty street in the downtown area of the capital. Its only entrance gives on to a long and narrow waiting room with a spine of wooden benches set back to back and two-tone walls on either side – wheat-coloured to the thigh and yellow from there up.

A crisp breeze was blowing through the terminal, which on this Saturday morning was full of Belizeans wrapped in coats and even scarves as they waited for their ride – former US school buses now in their final phase of life – to different corners of this tiny Central American country.

I noticed all of this because I had time on my hands – about an hour, according to the deep, oaky, American voice that had called my mobile a while earlier and told me to wait exactly where I was.

The voice belonged to John McAfee, mathematician, multimillionaire, creator of the ubiquitous McAfee antivirus software, alpha male. Except that in Belize, the country of about 350,000 people to which he had moved four years ago, he was now the focus of a nationwide manhunt – a “person of interest” in an investigation into the recent murder of Gregory Faull, a US citizen and a neighbour of McAfee’s on the picture-postcard island of Ambergris Caye. In other words, McAfee was on the run.

My people-gazing stopped suddenly when I realised that a perfect stranger – middle-aged, medium height, plain clothes – was looking right at me. “A mutual friend would like to see you,” he said with an outstretched hand to take my bag.

The next half an hour was a movie reel of Belizean side streets, back alleys, highways and byways – anything and every­thing to shake off potential tails. We pulled over and waited for a couple of minutes. A check in the rear-view mirror and we were moving again, zigzagging our way through a string of neighbourhoods – middle-class but only just. And then, just as it all began to seem routine, we stopped again. “Step out of the car, you’re going to cross the road and then keep walking. Somebody will meet you.”

One hundred yards later, a figure rounded a corner and started walking in my direction. He was white, about 6ft, in a black short-sleeved shirt, black baseball cap, black shorts and those Vibram five-toe shoes popularised by “barefoot” ultra-marathon runners. Only this man was no athlete: he was dragging his right foot, kicking up dust as it trailed behind him. His right arm was bent up, tight like a cooked chicken wing, and his fingers were twisted into a claw. “Follow me, please, sir,” he said. It was McAfee, the most wanted man in the country.

The Belize connection

How a 67-year-old English-born, Virginia-raised multimillionaire ended up on the lam in a Central American country the size of Wales is a long story, or several stories. It is still unclear, for example, why McAfee sold his portfolio of US properties at knock-down prices and headed south in the first place. One theory suggests that it was for tax purposes: after the recession started, McAfee helped spread the word that he had lost almost all of his money. Back in 1994, when he sold his remaining shares in the company that bears his name, this fortune had been estimated at about $100m.

But Jeff Wise, a journalist who knows McAfee, believes that he did not lose his fortune. Instead, Wise believes that he went to Belize to sidestep a potentially hefty financial payout from a lawsuit after one of the customers at his “aerotrekking” venture died in an accident while at McAfee’s New Mexico property. McAfee was a pioneer of aerotrekking, a sport involving flying souped-up microlight aircraft at breakneck speeds sometimes just a few feet off the ground. He and his flying friends called themselves “sky gypsies”.

Ask McAfee why he moved to Belize and he will tell you that the main reason is the former British colony’s unique traits: a Caribbean paradise of white-sand beaches and turquoise seas in which English is the official language; a part of Central America but until recently without the horrendous crime problems of its neighbours; swaths of unspoilt jungle laced with meandering rivers and dotted with ancient Mayan archeological sites. “Who wouldn’t want to live here? I mean, get real,” McAfee had told me in a phone call before the trip.

The place in which McAfee was now hiding was on the top floor of a block that, from the outside, looked more like an industrial warehouse than a residential building. There was a kitchenette and, beyond that, a single bedroom with a large double bed set on a white-tiled floor, and another door to a small balcony. Decoration was sparse save for a couple of chintzy paintings of rural scenes hanging on the white walls. One of them showed a country lane leading past a thatched cottage surrounded by holly­hocks, foxgloves and other plants you might find in a serene and tranquil English garden.

There was nothing serene or tranquil about McAfee. As soon as he closed the front door, he ditched the limp and the crippled arm. Then, hands trembling, he reached for one of several cigarette packets lying on the table.

“I’ve been smoking pretty heavily for two weeks,” he told me. “Under the same circumstances, you might do the same.” He flicked ash nervously out of the semi-open door that led to the balcony. He said he was averaging 15 a day. A quick calculation later on suggested that 30 would be more accurate.

His distress, and that of Samantha, his feisty 20-year-old Belizean girlfriend – during the interview, she accused me of being scared: “I’m young and smaller than you and I’ve got more balls” – was more than understandable given the saga that their lives had become over the previous few weeks.

©Adam Thomson

To start with, there were the first nights sleeping rough and on the run on the island of Ambergris Caye, where he has property close to that of Faull, whose body was discovered on November 11 lying face up in a pool of blood. There was a gunshot wound to his head and police found a 9mm shell casing next to the body.

McAfee lifted his shirt to reveal an impressively toned torso covered in mosquito bites. “I slept all over,” he explained. “In my house, in the bush, at my condo, I just kept moving constantly. It is very uncomfortable to sleep at night in the jungle.”

Then there was the escape from the island itself. The idea had been to get to the house of a friend, who would then take him and Samantha across the 30-mile stretch of water that separates the island from the mainland. “So we got to the house, everything was set and the engine wouldn’t start on the boat. And you can hear the police sirens as they’re going by. I’m looking through these big cracks through the walls to see if anyone is coming, looking to see if there is anywhere we can hide.”

Amid all the panic, his friend with the boat had to go to town to get some spare parts. Engine mended, they then discovered that there was no petrol. “That was the scariest part,” he recalled. “The police were looking for us everywhere.”

The obvious question was, why run at all? After all, the police had said that there were no charges against McAfee yet. “He is still just a person of interest” in the investigation, Raphael Martinez, a police spokesperson, told me. “We are still looking for him.” (Asked why they had not found him, Martinez said, “It beats the hell out of me.”)

Besides, McAfee insisted that he had nothing to do with Faull’s murder and that in spite of being neighbours – their houses were about 300 yards apart – he barely even knew the man. “He drank and I don’t hang with people who drink,” he said. He also reminded me that Belize was not as safe as people thought. I had already checked the statistics: according to United Nations figures, the country’s murder rate has risen rapidly, from about 16 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to more than 41 in 2010.

For many people, the answer was that McAfee was paranoid. Or as Dean Barrow, Belize’s prime minister, suggested a couple of weeks ago in statements made in Belize City to a local reporter, McAfee might simply be “bonkers”.

The inspiration for that assessment came in part from locals on Ambergris Caye, many of whom painted a picture of an increasingly insular McAfee, rarely venturing from his blue-roofed beach compound on the northern part of the island where armed guards kept vigil. Neighbours, including Faull, had complained about his numerous dogs, which barked at passersby, while rumours had been circulating, and with increasing speed, about his cavorting with young women and, above all, about drugs.

McAfee, who feeds on attention, didn’t help to suppress the rumours. Two years ago, and for several months, he posted regularly on Bluelight.ru, a Russian-registered drug-aficionados forum, claiming to have rediscovered the formula for “tan” MDPV, a narcotic that wowed the drug community when it first appeared in the early 2000s and then acquired semi-mythical status following its disappearance shortly afterwards.

From his hide-out, McAfee admitted to authoring the posts but also said that they were a hoax, a practical joke – the inevitable result of being a “prankster”. He said that he gave up all drugs and even alcohol 30-odd years previously. That tallies with other accounts: people who knew him and worked with him closely back then recall that there was never any alcohol at his company parties and that, in the typical style of someone who had at one time taken plenty of narcotics – “There is not a drug I have not taken,” he told me in Belize – he would often “preach” about how bad drugs were.

Samantha brought us some lunch from the impossibly small kitchen. It was a plate each of tightly rolled tacos filled with beef and thick-cut salsa. McAfee stubbed out his cigarette and, between mouthfuls, he told me that he had decided to run because he felt that tension had been mounting between him and the authorities ever since he moved, a couple of years previously, from the touristy Ambergris Caye to the jungle interior of the country. “I was the only white man living full-time in a district of 30,000 people,” he said. “And that was a mistake. It became clear that I had money. I had automobiles, I had houses, I had things that other people did not have. And so suddenly, I became a target.”

A wealthy man living in a small, isolated and poor community provided fabulous employment opportunities for many locals. There were jobs in construction work and to provide security, gardening and maintenance of the properties. But there were also the ventures that McAfee set up, like the Studio 54 bar in Carmelita village, which he paid for and then let others administer. During a stay in Carmelita the night before the interview, I was told that McAfee was spending about US$6,000 a week on his local payroll. But it also created plenty of bad blood for those who either failed to get “in” with him or, worse, got a job only to lose it later for one reason or another.

More important, McAfee claimed that living in the interior of the country had brought him into direct contact with local circles of power, which he insisted saw in him a once-in-a-lifetime chance to line their pockets. He gave. But he also believed that he had annoyed the authorities by giving in kind – goods, property, equipment – instead of handing out cash. “No one can skim,” he said. “Instead of giving $5m to the government, I gave it to the people. So suddenly, [it’s] like, ‘Where the f*** is my share? You should have given it to us and we will buy the stuff.’ So that they will take the $5m and buy $50,000 worth of stuff and then give the rest to their families. So I didn’t do that. I didn’t play by the rules. It pissed everybody off.”

McAfee argued that the breaking point came in April when members of the Gang Suppression Unit, a division of the police force created in response to Belize’s rapidly rising crime rate, stormed his jungle compound. “That’s when I knew I was in trouble,” he said, lifting another taco to his mouth. Police said they were looking for illegal weapons and drugs. According to Martinez, they found some guns but no illegal drugs. He also said that no charges were filed against McAfee.

Today, the jungle compound, which served as McAfee’s house and laboratory where he was developing topical antiseptics, is gated and the doors of the eight or so houses on the riverfront property, all built on stilts and constructed from local hardwoods with palm-leaf roofs, are boarded up. All of his personal belongings have also been moved out. I came across some of them at a nearby house on a different property that McAfee had said was empty and where I could stay the night. On the phone, he described it as “very comfortable”.

And it was. But it was also basic and hardly a millionaire’s dream house. Constructed in a similar design to his houses in the jungle compound, it consisted of one main space with a counter top or bar separating the living room from the kitchen. To the side, there were a couple of tiny rooms sectioned off by white walls.

I slept in one of them. It had a small, rustic four-poster bed and the largest flatscreen television set I could recall seeing. There was a yellow notepad with some of his handwriting on it. It read: “Lesson 6: Solving systems by graphing”. There was also a leather-bound edition of Robert A. Heinlein’s science-fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land. No kidding.

Computer genius

McAfee was born in 1945 in England to an English mother and a US soldier fighting in the second world war. He described his father as “an alcoholic and abusive”. When McAfee was two the family moved to the US to a small town in Virginia, and into a society that he described as “very conservative, provincial, Christian: I had to go to chapel every week on Wednesday”. As if to ram home the point, he said, “I was an altar boy. I could probably quote the Bible from beginning to end.” To my surprise, he started to do just that and then interrupted himself with a “I never believed it.”

School friends remember McAfee as pleasant, fun, fond of pranks but never to the extent of being a troublemaker. They also remember him as being good at school, in particular at maths, the subject he ended up studying at the nearby Roanoke College.

He graduated in 1967, did a year of further maths studies at Virginia Tech and then stopped to think. “What am I doing studying mathematics?” he remembered asking himself. “I’m going to a place where other people told me to go.” So he said he dropped out, packed his bags and embarked on a life of adventure with a first stop, in 1969, at 11th and Broadway in New York. He landed squarely on his feet, getting a job there at Nasa – “I learned computers well and, from that experience, computers were just a natural for me.” The rest of the time, he said he just spent getting stoned and watching bands at the Fillmore East rock venue.

During the heady days of the late 1980s McAfee became one of the computer era’s brightest stars. He breezed through a string of jobs in the tech industry, from a position at Xerox to working for Lockheed in California. That was when he came across a report of a virus. “My brother-in-law was reading a piece in the paper about a thing called the Pakistani brain, the world’s first computer virus. I go, ‘Let me see that,’ I snatch the newspaper out of his hands, read it and I started thinking, ‘What the f***?’ And then it came to me: ‘Oh, I know how they did this.’ And as soon as I saw how they did it, I saw how you could solve it … I know computers.”

He phoned Dennis Yelle, a brilliant programmer, and asked him if he could write the code. He couldn’t remember but thought he had paid him $200 for the work. “Within six hours he had the program,” recalled McAfee. “A week later, I had McAfee. That was it. That is how it started.”

McAfee’s genius lay not only in working out how to combat and eliminate the virus but also in his decision, and at a time when every software company in the world was obsessed with protecting their products, to give his antivirus program away for free.

“I didn’t think there would be any more [viruses],” he said. “And I thought, that’s a flash in the pan. I’ll get this out for free and I’ll make a name … Well, I did make a name but then, immediately, more viruses cropped up … I called Dennis and said, ‘This is a completely different affair, but we can use the same program, here is what you have to do.’ Within a day, he had the program, I had it out and by then we were the number one antivirus provider because I gave it away for free. I didn’t sell it. Freeware. Take it, use it. Copy it.”

The model was simple: get the program installed on to everyone’s computers, make a name, attract companies to use it and then charge the companies for the updates. “Eight months after I started, there was $10m in the bank.”

Exclusive interview with multi-millionaire creator of antivirus software, who went on the run from his Belize home last month

The meeting

Belize City bus station is a small building set on a dusty street in the downtown area of the capital. Its only entrance gives on to a long and narrow waiting room with a spine of wooden benches set back to back and two-tone walls on either side – wheat-coloured to the thigh and yellow from there up.

A crisp breeze was blowing through the terminal, which on this Saturday morning was full of Belizeans wrapped in coats and even scarves as they waited for their ride – former US school buses now in their final phase of life – to different corners of this tiny Central American country.

I noticed all of this because I had time on my hands – about an hour, according to the deep, oaky, American voice that had called my mobile a while earlier and told me to wait exactly where I was.

The voice belonged to John McAfee, mathematician, multimillionaire, creator of the ubiquitous McAfee antivirus software, alpha male. Except that in Belize, the country of about 350,000 people to which he had moved four years ago, he was now the focus of a nationwide manhunt – a “person of interest” in an investigation into the recent murder of Gregory Faull, a US citizen and a neighbour of McAfee’s on the picture-postcard island of Ambergris Caye. In other words, McAfee was on the run.

My people-gazing stopped suddenly when I realised that a perfect stranger – middle-aged, medium height, plain clothes – was looking right at me. “A mutual friend would like to see you,” he said with an outstretched hand to take my bag.

The next half an hour was a movie reel of Belizean side streets, back alleys, highways and byways – anything and every­thing to shake off potential tails. We pulled over and waited for a couple of minutes. A check in the rear-view mirror and we were moving again, zigzagging our way through a string of neighbourhoods – middle-class but only just. And then, just as it all began to seem routine, we stopped again. “Step out of the car, you’re going to cross the road and then keep walking. Somebody will meet you.”

©Jules Vazquez/AFP/Getty

Police officers remove the body of Gregory Faull, found dead on November 11

One hundred yards later, a figure rounded a corner and started walking in my direction. He was white, about 6ft, in a black short-sleeved shirt, black baseball cap, black shorts and those Vibram five-toe shoes popularised by “barefoot” ultra-marathon runners. Only this man was no athlete: he was dragging his right foot, kicking up dust as it trailed behind him. His right arm was bent up, tight like a cooked chicken wing, and his fingers were twisted into a claw. “Follow me, please, sir,” he said. It was McAfee, the most wanted man in the country.

The Belize connection

How a 67-year-old English-born, Virginia-raised multimillionaire ended up on the lam in a Central American country the size of Wales is a long story, or several stories. It is still unclear, for example, why McAfee sold his portfolio of US properties at knock-down prices and headed south in the first place. One theory suggests that it was for tax purposes: after the recession started, McAfee helped spread the word that he had lost almost all of his money. Back in 1994, when he sold his remaining shares in the company that bears his name, this fortune had been estimated at about $100m.

But Jeff Wise, a journalist who knows McAfee, believes that he did not lose his fortune. Instead, Wise believes that he went to Belize to sidestep a potentially hefty financial payout from a lawsuit after one of the customers at his “aerotrekking” venture died in an accident while at McAfee’s New Mexico property. McAfee was a pioneer of aerotrekking, a sport involving flying souped-up microlight aircraft at breakneck speeds sometimes just a few feet off the ground. He and his flying friends called themselves “sky gypsies”.

Ask McAfee why he moved to Belize and he will tell you that the main reason is the former British colony’s unique traits: a Caribbean paradise of white-sand beaches and turquoise seas in which English is the official language; a part of Central America but until recently without the horrendous crime problems of its neighbours; swaths of unspoilt jungle laced with meandering rivers and dotted with ancient Mayan archeological sites. “Who wouldn’t want to live here? I mean, get real,” McAfee had told me in a phone call before the trip.

The place in which McAfee was now hiding was on the top floor of a block that, from the outside, looked more like an industrial warehouse than a residential building. There was a kitchenette and, beyond that, a single bedroom with a large double bed set on a white-tiled floor, and another door to a small balcony. Decoration was sparse save for a couple of chintzy paintings of rural scenes hanging on the white walls. One of them showed a country lane leading past a thatched cottage surrounded by holly­hocks, foxgloves and other plants you might find in a serene and tranquil English garden.

There was nothing serene or tranquil about McAfee. As soon as he closed the front door, he ditched the limp and the crippled arm. Then, hands trembling, he reached for one of several cigarette packets lying on the table.

“I’ve been smoking pretty heavily for two weeks,” he told me. “Under the same circumstances, you might do the same.” He flicked ash nervously out of the semi-open door that led to the balcony. He said he was averaging 15 a day. A quick calculation later on suggested that 30 would be more accurate.

His distress, and that of Samantha, his feisty 20-year-old Belizean girlfriend – during the interview, she accused me of being scared: “I’m young and smaller than you and I’ve got more balls” – was more than understandable given the saga that their lives had become over the previous few weeks.

©Adam Thomson

McAfee with his 20-year-old Belizean girlfriend, Samantha, who went on the run with him

To start with, there were the first nights sleeping rough and on the run on the island of Ambergris Caye, where he has property close to that of Faull, whose body was discovered on November 11 lying face up in a pool of blood. There was a gunshot wound to his head and police found a 9mm shell casing next to the body.

McAfee lifted his shirt to reveal an impressively toned torso covered in mosquito bites. “I slept all over,” he explained. “In my house, in the bush, at my condo, I just kept moving constantly. It is very uncomfortable to sleep at night in the jungle.”

Then there was the escape from the island itself. The idea had been to get to the house of a friend, who would then take him and Samantha across the 30-mile stretch of water that separates the island from the mainland. “So we got to the house, everything was set and the engine wouldn’t start on the boat. And you can hear the police sirens as they’re going by. I’m looking through these big cracks through the walls to see if anyone is coming, looking to see if there is anywhere we can hide.”

Amid all the panic, his friend with the boat had to go to town to get some spare parts. Engine mended, they then discovered that there was no petrol. “That was the scariest part,” he recalled. “The police were looking for us everywhere.”

The obvious question was, why run at all? After all, the police had said that there were no charges against McAfee yet. “He is still just a person of interest” in the investigation, Raphael Martinez, a police spokesperson, told me. “We are still looking for him.” (Asked why they had not found him, Martinez said, “It beats the hell out of me.”)

Besides, McAfee insisted that he had nothing to do with Faull’s murder and that in spite of being neighbours – their houses were about 300 yards apart – he barely even knew the man. “He drank and I don’t hang with people who drink,” he said. He also reminded me that Belize was not as safe as people thought. I had already checked the statistics: according to United Nations figures, the country’s murder rate has risen rapidly, from about 16 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to more than 41 in 2010.

For many people, the answer was that McAfee was paranoid. Or as Dean Barrow, Belize’s prime minister, suggested a couple of weeks ago in statements made in Belize City to a local reporter, McAfee might simply be “bonkers”.

©Reuters

McAfee’s abandoned home on the island of Ambergris Caye

The inspiration for that assessment came in part from locals on Ambergris Caye, many of whom painted a picture of an increasingly insular McAfee, rarely venturing from his blue-roofed beach compound on the northern part of the island where armed guards kept vigil. Neighbours, including Faull, had complained about his numerous dogs, which barked at passersby, while rumours had been circulating, and with increasing speed, about his cavorting with young women and, above all, about drugs.

McAfee, who feeds on attention, didn’t help to suppress the rumours. Two years ago, and for several months, he posted regularly on Bluelight.ru, a Russian-registered drug-aficionados forum, claiming to have rediscovered the formula for “tan” MDPV, a narcotic that wowed the drug community when it first appeared in the early 2000s and then acquired semi-mythical status following its disappearance shortly afterwards.

From his hide-out, McAfee admitted to authoring the posts but also said that they were a hoax, a practical joke – the inevitable result of being a “prankster”. He said that he gave up all drugs and even alcohol 30-odd years previously. That tallies with other accounts: people who knew him and worked with him closely back then recall that there was never any alcohol at his company parties and that, in the typical style of someone who had at one time taken plenty of narcotics – “There is not a drug I have not taken,” he told me in Belize – he would often “preach” about how bad drugs were.

Samantha brought us some lunch from the impossibly small kitchen. It was a plate each of tightly rolled tacos filled with beef and thick-cut salsa. McAfee stubbed out his cigarette and, between mouthfuls, he told me that he had decided to run because he felt that tension had been mounting between him and the authorities ever since he moved, a couple of years previously, from the touristy Ambergris Caye to the jungle interior of the country. “I was the only white man living full-time in a district of 30,000 people,” he said. “And that was a mistake. It became clear that I had money. I had automobiles, I had houses, I had things that other people did not have. And so suddenly, I became a target.”

A wealthy man living in a small, isolated and poor community provided fabulous employment opportunities for many locals. There were jobs in construction work and to provide security, gardening and maintenance of the properties. But there were also the ventures that McAfee set up, like the Studio 54 bar in Carmelita village, which he paid for and then let others administer. During a stay in Carmelita the night before the interview, I was told that McAfee was spending about US$6,000 a week on his local payroll. But it also created plenty of bad blood for those who either failed to get “in” with him or, worse, got a job only to lose it later for one reason or another.

McAfee properties in Carmelita, inland Belize. McAfee says his move here led to tensions with authorities

More important, McAfee claimed that living in the interior of the country had brought him into direct contact with local circles of power, which he insisted saw in him a once-in-a-lifetime chance to line their pockets. He gave. But he also believed that he had annoyed the authorities by giving in kind – goods, property, equipment – instead of handing out cash. “No one can skim,” he said. “Instead of giving $5m to the government, I gave it to the people. So suddenly, [it’s] like, ‘Where the f*** is my share? You should have given it to us and we will buy the stuff.’ So that they will take the $5m and buy $50,000 worth of stuff and then give the rest to their families. So I didn’t do that. I didn’t play by the rules. It pissed everybody off.”

McAfee argued that the breaking point came in April when members of the Gang Suppression Unit, a division of the police force created in response to Belize’s rapidly rising crime rate, stormed his jungle compound. “That’s when I knew I was in trouble,” he said, lifting another taco to his mouth. Police said they were looking for illegal weapons and drugs. According to Martinez, they found some guns but no illegal drugs. He also said that no charges were filed against McAfee.

Today, the jungle compound, which served as McAfee’s house and laboratory where he was developing topical antiseptics, is gated and the doors of the eight or so houses on the riverfront property, all built on stilts and constructed from local hardwoods with palm-leaf roofs, are boarded up. All of his personal belongings have also been moved out. I came across some of them at a nearby house on a different property that McAfee had said was empty and where I could stay the night. On the phone, he described it as “very comfortable”.

And it was. But it was also basic and hardly a millionaire’s dream house. Constructed in a similar design to his houses in the jungle compound, it consisted of one main space with a counter top or bar separating the living room from the kitchen. To the side, there were a couple of tiny rooms sectioned off by white walls.

I slept in one of them. It had a small, rustic four-poster bed and the largest flatscreen television set I could recall seeing. There was a yellow notepad with some of his handwriting on it. It read: “Lesson 6: Solving systems by graphing”. There was also a leather-bound edition of Robert A. Heinlein’s science-fiction classic, Stranger in a Strange Land. No kidding.

Computer genius

McAfee was born in 1945 in England to an English mother and a US soldier fighting in the second world war. He described his father as “an alcoholic and abusive”. When McAfee was two the family moved to the US to a small town in Virginia, and into a society that he described as “very conservative, provincial, Christian: I had to go to chapel every week on Wednesday”. As if to ram home the point, he said, “I was an altar boy. I could probably quote the Bible from beginning to end.” To my surprise, he started to do just that and then interrupted himself with a “I never believed it.”

School friends remember McAfee as pleasant, fun, fond of pranks but never to the extent of being a troublemaker. They also remember him as being good at school, in particular at maths, the subject he ended up studying at the nearby Roanoke College.

©John Storey/ Getty

McAfee pictured in 1989, holding a stethoscope to a 'poorly' computer

He graduated in 1967, did a year of further maths studies at Virginia Tech and then stopped to think. “What am I doing studying mathematics?” he remembered asking himself. “I’m going to a place where other people told me to go.” So he said he dropped out, packed his bags and embarked on a life of adventure with a first stop, in 1969, at 11th and Broadway in New York. He landed squarely on his feet, getting a job there at Nasa – “I learned computers well and, from that experience, computers were just a natural for me.” The rest of the time, he said he just spent getting stoned and watching bands at the Fillmore East rock venue.

During the heady days of the late 1980s McAfee became one of the computer era’s brightest stars. He breezed through a string of jobs in the tech industry, from a position at Xerox to working for Lockheed in California. That was when he came across a report of a virus. “My brother-in-law was reading a piece in the paper about a thing called the Pakistani brain, the world’s first computer virus. I go, ‘Let me see that,’ I snatch the newspaper out of his hands, read it and I started thinking, ‘What the f***?’ And then it came to me: ‘Oh, I know how they did this.’ And as soon as I saw how they did it, I saw how you could solve it … I know computers.”

He phoned Dennis Yelle, a brilliant programmer, and asked him if he could write the code. He couldn’t remember but thought he had paid him $200 for the work. “Within six hours he had the program,” recalled McAfee. “A week later, I had McAfee. That was it. That is how it started.”

McAfee’s genius lay not only in working out how to combat and eliminate the virus but also in his decision, and at a time when every software company in the world was obsessed with protecting their products, to give his antivirus program away for free.

“I didn’t think there would be any more [viruses],” he said. “And I thought, that’s a flash in the pan. I’ll get this out for free and I’ll make a name … Well, I did make a name but then, immediately, more viruses cropped up … I called Dennis and said, ‘This is a completely different affair, but we can use the same program, here is what you have to do.’ Within a day, he had the program, I had it out and by then we were the number one antivirus provider because I gave it away for free. I didn’t sell it. Freeware. Take it, use it. Copy it.”

The model was simple: get the program installed on to everyone’s computers, make a name, attract companies to use it and then charge the companies for the updates. “Eight months after I started, there was $10m in the bank.”

©Adam Thomson

McAfee crossed his long, sinewy legs and lit up yet another cigarette. He appeared a little more relaxed than when I had arrived several hours previously, and seemed to be enjoying the memories. After the initial success the money was pouring in so fast, he said, that the bottom drawer in his filing cabinet at work was stuffed with cheques for $1,000 or less. “I didn’t have time to take them to the bank. There must have been $50,000 in that drawer.”

At the insistence of his then partner, McAfee said that he moved out of his one-bedroom place in Santa Clara, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and into a $5m mansion in Santa Cruz. She also urged him to swap his beaten-up Datsun Z series sports car for a top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz. “I could care less … two beat-up cars would have been fine for me.” The longer McAfee talked, the stronger the impression grew that money had been at once a liberation and a burden to him. One mistake, he said, was building so many different properties around the world – at least 20. “The South Padre Island one? I spent $5m building it. I was there for a week. That’s how ridiculous life becomes … it’s a f***ing nightmare.”

Inevitably, perhaps, he discovered yoga, which he embraced in the 1990s, establishing a yoga retreat in Colorado and even writing several books on the subject. One reviewer on Amazon.com described McAfee’s 2001 Into the Heart of Truth: The Spirit of Relational Yoga as “profoundly illuminating… the author is talking to nearly everyone that I know – he’s certainly talking to me.” But, as with most other things, he got bored of that, too, and began to look for the next big thing.

McAfee admitted that life on the run was tough. But it was also clear that he fed off the drama, the media attention and the uncertainty of what the next day would bring. Change and upheaval had been persistent themes in his life; now he was living them to the extreme. In that spirit, I had little doubt that he embellished many of his stories.

McAfee told me that he intended to leave Belize in the following few days. He sketched out a plan, how he would make the break and where he might go. But I also knew that he was living day to day and that his plans could and would change.

We took some pictures, shook hands and said our farewells. There was just one more question, though: “Do you have McAfee antivirus on your computer?” He looked at me and put down his cigarette. “I take it off,” he said. “It’s too annoying.”

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#453091 - 12/08/12 05:06 PM Re: What the heck? McAfee news [Re: seashell]
Danny2 Offline
Thanks, good read.

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#453114 - 12/09/12 02:18 PM Re: What the heck? McAfee news [Re: seashell]
Marty Offline

From malware to madman: A brief history of John McAfee’s lunacy binge

Technology's favorite crazy man John McAfee is currently sitting in a jail in Guatemala after fleeing police in Belize who suspect him of murdering his neighbor. Here's a complete rundown of how he ended up in such crazy, sad place in this world.

John McAfee is one crazy son of a bitch. But you already know that, thanks to the ridiculous escapade that started back in November after McAfee’s neighbor was found dead, and McAfee fled into the jungles of Belize. It’s a sordid tale, with many ins, outs, and what-have-yous – one of the most spectacular displays of utter madness the technology world has ever seen.

McAfee’s absurd story actually starts much earlier, all the way back in the 1990s. So sit back, grab yourself a hit of bath salts, and come with us on a journey through John McAfee’s long, hilarious descent into madness.

1987: McAfee Associates launches

After nearly two decades working as a programmer for NASA, Univac, and Xerox, McAfee lands a job at Lockheed Martin where he begins developing anti-virus software. In 1987, he launches his own company, McAfee Associates, which becomes the world’s go-to anti-virus company.

1992: Michelangelo virus stir-up

This is when McAfee’s crazy streak first begins to reveal itself. McAfee tells the world that a virus dubbed “Michelangelo,” which had the charming feature of completely wiping the hard drive of infected computers, had made its way into as many as 5 million PCs. On March 6, McAfee said, Michelagelo would trigger a meltdown in all infected computers at once. His declaration caused a near-panic in the computer-using world, much as the Y2K D-Day scare did some eight years later. But by March 7, nothing had happened. Nothing.

McAfee was blamed for creating a false threat to sell more of his anti-virus elixir – which he did. McAfee’s anti-virus software sales reportedly “skyrocketed” that year, with more than half of the companies in the Fortune 100 having purchased McAfee software. Of course, this only furthered the theory that McAfee had just made up the whole damn thing.

1994: McAfee cashes out

The Michelangelo fiasco eventually took its toll on McAfee’s reputation within the company. By 1994, he was forced out of his own firm. He cashed out most of his stock in the company, plunking a whopping $100 million into his bank account. At 47, McAfee is massively rich, retired, and bored.

1994 to 1999: The dark years

Flush with millions of dollars in cash, McAfee purchases a 280-acre compound in Woodland Park, Colorado for $25 million. The sprawling estate includes a 10,000-square-foot mansion, two apartments, and nine guest cabins.

It was from this home base that McAfee developed one of the first Internet instant messaging and VoIP clients, PowWow, which precluded eventual winners in the space, like AOL Instant Messenger and Skype. He launched the product under a new company called Tribal Voices, a Native American-themed venture that foreshadowed McAfee’s eventual turn into a hippy-dippy yoga junkie.

1999: Goodbye, Tribal Voices. Hello, extreme sports and giant houses

Tribal Voices, though innovative, never managed to gain the mainstream appeal of competing products. And McAfee decided to sell the company in 1999 for about $17 million. He then dove head first into real estate, purchasing properties in Arizona, Hawaii, Texas, and New Mexico.

This was also the start of McAfee’s plunge into the batshit-crazy sport of aerotrekking, which involves soaring through the air on half-motorcycle-half-hang-glider contraptions called kite-planes. McAfee would later establish a group of aerotrekking enthusiasts called the Sky Gypsies. The Sky Gypsies would later prove to be one of McAfee’s various downfalls.

2000: Board the Zone Labs

Following the sale of Tribal Voices, McAfee invests in San Francisco-based cybersecurity firm Zone Labs, creator of the then-popular ZoneAlarm firewall product. McAfee also joined the Zone Labs board of directors. At this point, McAfee’s reputation, though tarnished by the whole Michelangelo debacle, is still intact enough for companies to accept his money.

2001: Yoga, yoga, yoga

In his spare time, McAfee managed to write four books on his favorite hobby, yoga. His catalog includes Into the Heart of Truth, The Secrets of the Yamas, The Fabric of Self, and Beyond the Siddhis, the latter of which takes things like telepathy, time travel, and levitation totally, totally seriously. Seriously. The next year, McAfee released two instructional yoga DVDs.

2006: Wrongful death lawsuit

By 2004, McAfee was so obsessed with aerotrekking that he spent $11.5 million on a 117-acre ranch in New Mexico, which he established as the home base of the Sky Gypsies. But his high-flying dreams came crashing down in late 2006 when his nephew, Joel Gordon Bitow, crashed one of the kite-planes into a canyon wall. Bitlow and his 61-year-old passenger Robert Gibson both died instantly. Gibson’s family then sued McAfee for $5 million, arguing that McAfee should not have allowed Bitlow to fly the aircraft because he didn’t have enough experience.

2008: McAfee moves to Belize

The Sky Gypsies tragedy reportedly led McAfee to flee to Belize to avoid the Gibson family lawsuit. Upon arriving in the Central American nation, McAfee bought the Belize Coast Guard a 27-foot-boat worth about a $1 million to help the fight against drug trafficking. He also donated about $100,000 worth of equipment to the San Pedro Town Police Department.

2009: Fortune plummets?

A New York Times report says that McAfee’s fortunes had plummeted to around $4 million thanks in large part to the crash of Lehman Brothers. But Fast Company reporter Jeff Wise, who visited McAfee in Belize, would later call the eccentric man’s finances into question, claiming that he was not living like a man who only had a mere $4 million in the bank.

2010: Drug trade

As relatively nutty as McAfee’s life had been up until this point, it wasn’t until 2010 that the fruitcake really hits the fan. As Wise reported, McAfee had begun researching a bacteria that was thought to be the next big thing in antibiotics. He purchased 22 acres in the Belize jungle to grow the necessary plants, and hired a legit researcher. Eventually, he set up Quorumex to develop the drug.

2010 (Oct.): Bath salts

Speaking of drugs, in the same year, a person with the username Stuffmonger posted to a drug discussion forum called Bluelight about attempts to purify a drug called MDVP, otherwise known as “bath salts.” Stuffmonger, according Gizmodo, was actually McAfee.

“I’m a huge fan of MDPV,” wrote Stuffmonger. “I think it’s the finest drug ever conceived, not just for the indescribable hypersexuality, but also for the smooth euphoria and mild comedown.”

McAfee later denied that he was Stuffmonger, and said he didn’t do drugs at all.

“I have a highly addictive personality,” wrote McAfee on his blog. “That’s one of the reasons I do not drink or do drugs. If I had been on MDPV, then I would still be on MDPV.”

April 30, 2012: Police raid

In the early morning hours of April 30, McAfee and his 17-year-old girlfriend “Amy” awoke to 42 police and military personnel storming his Belize compound. They announced with a bullhorn that they were looking for drugs and guns. They shot one of McAfee’s dogs, and confiscated an arsenal of firearms that included seven pump-action shotguns, 9-mm pistols, and buckets of ammunition.

McAfee says he was handcuffed and forced to sit in the sun for 14 hours “without food or water while I watched my property being destroyed and taken away.” He was arrested on charges of possessing illegal firearms – charges McAfee says were bogus.

November 9: Dogs die

On November 9, McAfee found four of his dogs dead. They had been poisoned. McAfee’s neighbor Gregory Faull had reportedly complained about the dogs’ barking, and McAfee’s loud lifestyle.

November 11: Murder

Faull was found dead in his home two days after the death of McAfee’s dogs. He had been killed with 9-mm gunshot to the back of his head. McAfee was officially a suspect, police said. Still, they did not – and have not – officially charged him with any crime. They just want to talk, John. That’s all – just a little chitchat.

November 14: McAfee, a wanted man

News that McAfee was now a suspected murder first arrived via Jeff Wise, writing for Gizmodo.The report came just days after Wise published his latest profile of McAfee, who had seemingly fallen into a pit of madness over the previous two years.

McAfee later denied that he was involved in the killing of Faull, claiming that the 52-year-old’s death was part of a government plot against him. McAfee the decided to make a run for it. He would later tell reporters that he was living in a lice-infested hellhole in the jungle.

November 17: McAfee blogs on the run

Three days later, McAfee surfaced from his hiding in the form of a blog. He took the opportunity to blast Wise, saying that he “made a life work out of smearing my character.” He also took shots at Wired’s Josh Davis. (In a later post, McAfee apologized for blasting Wise.)

McAfee continued to blog throughout his time on the lam, allowing the rest of us to follow his sordid journey, which eventually led him and his 20-year-old girlfriend Samantha to Guatemala.

December 4: Vice exposes his postion

We know McAfee went to Guatemala because some Vice Magazine reporters had joined him there, and took a picture of him with an iPhone. The photo, which was posted to Vice’s website, still contained metadata that revealed the precise location of McAfee.

McAfee initially claimed that the metadata had been intentionally altered to throw authorities off his trail. But he later admitted that he was, in fact, in Guatemala, where he was seeking asylum.

December 6: Arrested in Guatemala, blogs, has “heart attack”

But asylum he did not get. Guatemalan authorities soon arrested McAfee for entering the country illegally. Following his apprehension, McAfee suffered intense chest pains, which were initially believed to be symptoms of a heart attack. Later reports indicate that he did not suffer a heart attack, and was released from the hospital to return to jail.

December 7: Awaiting trial

As of today, McAfee is awaiting trial in a Guatemalan jail.

Source


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